25 October 2012

Post tenebras lux (Carlos Reygadas, 2012, Mexico)

The film's title is Latin for "After darkness, light." That's about as much clarification as you're going to get here. The first few minutes set me up to think that this would be an amazing film. There is this demented high energy sequence where this little girl is standing in a rainy field calling the names of herd animals which seem to be stampeding about her. The sky is a poisonous garden. The actual title sequence is annoying as each of the three words is placed on the the screen individually for too long a time. Honestly, it kind of undercut the energy of the previous scene by seeming silly and self-important. This is followed by a scene of a cartoon devil walking into an apartment with a toolbox. Very unexpected. Then are all these random scenes of rugby, sex clubs, animal cruelty, an AA meeting, family bonding, and strange weather. I liked a lot of this movie. Some of the sequences are electrifying. I'm just not sure the film earned its high moments, and the sum of the parts seem more than the whole. By the way, several people left the screening early on when the ostensible protagonist seems to beat a dog to death. Still more trickled out during an inexplicable sequence in a sex club which went from perplexing to tedious to enchanting. The latter scene has a lot of nudity but nothing too graphic and the dog scene is disturbing but it's filmed in such a way that the dog is mostly offscreen while it's taking place.
Essentially, I kind of feel like the cinematographer Alexis Zabe is the real star here, as perhaps was also the case in Silent Light. The little girl in the movie is also exquisite; I was surprised to learn that she's the director's own daughter.
I guess I'm not giving the full picture here. I may have read too many other reviews. The movie seems to be about dreams, maybe life being a dream, maybe childhood being a dream, and a wistful longing for the experience of being a child. At least that seems to be part of it.

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